No more ethics rules in the House. The Democrats have shut down the ethics committee. Why? Because they are refusing to sign off on new rules pushed by the Republicans that would make it next to impossible to ever investigate ethics violations. What Republicans don't seem to realize is that, while they will be able to protect Tom "The Hammer" DeLay, they will not be able to investigate any misdoings by Democrats either.
After DeLay was admonished three times in a row by the bipartisan committee, House Speaker, Dennis Hastert, replaced and "independent minded" Republicans on the ethics committee with Republicans who will be loyal to the Hammer.
I am glad the the Democrats are stonewalling the Republicans on this one. Congress needs more accountability, not less.
House Ethics Panel in Gridlock
By Mike Allen
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, March 11, 2005; Page A02
The House, facing new controversy about the travel of Majority Leader Tom DeLay and other lawmakers, was left last night with no mechanism for investigating improper behavior by its members when Democrats shut down the ethics committee by refusing to accept Republican rules changes that restrict the panel's power.
Democrats said they do not plan to allow the ethics committee to organize until Republicans repeal a series of rule changes they pushed through in January, making it more difficult to initiate an investigation unless at least one Republican member supports the probe.
The committee met in secret for 2 1/2 hours. It was the first meeting since House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) replaced the chairman and two other members with lawmakers more loyal to the leadership. "These rules undermine the ability of the committee to do its job," Rep. Alan B. Mollohan (W.Va.), the panel's top Democrat, said in an interview after a 5 to 5 vote that stalemated action. "An ethics committee has to do a good job if it's going to do any job at all."
The standoff followed a Washington Post report that DeLay accepted a trip to South Korea in 2001 from a group that had registered as a foreign agent. House rules prohibit members from taking gifts from such groups. The ethics committee has admonished DeLay three times in the past year for official misconduct, and some ethics experts believe that the latest revelation could trigger another investigation.
Justice Department documents show that the Korea-U.S. Exchange Council, a business-financed entity, registered under the Foreign Agents Registration Act on Aug. 22, 2001. DeLay; his wife, Christine; and two other Republican lawmakers departed on a trip financed by the group on Aug. 25 of that year.